Spiritual Life: Listen to the voice of God in life's storms

Timothy J. Ledbetter, Tri-City Herald on

Published in Religious News

It was hard to miss -- the terrific thunder and lightning storm that recently lit up the early morning skies and woke up sleepy heads. I arose and with steaming cup of coffee in hand, sat in my opened garage just out of reach of the occasional torrential rains, and watched with the requisite oohs and aahs.

All who viewed were treated to thick bolts blasting straight to earth and sheets that shot out like brilliant horizontal electric fingers. The particular color of that storm was orange of various hues that dominated the clouds to the south and west as the sun came up.

I was grateful for the rain. The heavy but brief downpours, with a couple of exceptions, quelled the fire risk and briefly quenched the soil. Perhaps it will be enough to stimulate the spring desert wildflowers.

It was an awesome display! The fierce power of an electrical storm always gives me pause. I can't help but feel how small, how vulnerable, how little in control we are before magnificent natural displays and their impact on this earth and its inhabitants.

Our Inland Northwest landscape is really one big tableau of ancient meta-drama from the lava flows to the cataclysmic Missoula floods to the volcanoes of the Cascade Range to the relatively recent Tillamook winds of 1962, eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 and annual wide-spread fires.

You can't stop a storm. Storms and all other natural eruptions don't depend on human permission or efforts to manage their effects.

But there are other storms this strange year of 2020 that have swept over our land and those of fellow inhabitants of earth.

Medical and now social storms of great proportions can benefit from our collective attention and response. I refer obviously to the viral pandemic, now complicated by large gatherings of protesters who continue the long tradition of demanding improvements to the ways persons of color are, and have been treated in America since before its founding.

Storms are messy and indiscriminate.


Earthquakes, winds, fires and floods don't seem to care who is in their path, although in each case some are more vulnerable than others. And so, for those who are caught in a storm, where do we go for help?

To the wise ones, the ones whose knowing and sagacity run deep, grounded in eternal truths of faith and realities of how things work with us and without us. Today I looked to the Book of Job, part of the biblical wisdom literature, for perspective and guidance. "Listen, listen to the thunder of God's voice and the rumbling that comes from God's mouth ... . God thunders wondrously ... . God does great things that we cannot comprehend." (Job 37:2,5).

Amidst the storms of our time, may we listen to and heed the thunderous, wondrous voice of the Beloved and share in doing great things. Or, as Mother Teresa is credited with saying: "Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love."

About The Writer

Timothy J. Ledbetter, DMin, BCC serves as a Board Certified Chaplain helping persons in crisis effectively cope and find their hope in hospital and hospice settings and is a Tri-City Herald Spiritual Life contributor. He is married and delights in their children and grandchildren. He also enjoys camping and boating. email:

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